The search area for the plane covers sea and land, including 11 countries
The plane's pilots are a main investigation focus
Details have emerged about some key moments during the flight
As investigators search for clues to unravel the mystery of where Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went, there were several key developments over the weekend.
But major questions still remain.
Here’s a cheat sheet to help you get up to speed on the latest developments:
Where are investigators searching now?
The search has expanded to cover large swaths of land and sea, including 11 countries and deep oceans. Where the plane went is anybody’s guess. As 26 nations help try to find the missing plane, there’s also a process of elimination in which investigators try to piece together where the aircraft isn’t. Pakistan said Sunday that the plane never showed up on its civilian radars and would have been treated as a threat if it had. The Times of India reported that India’s military also said there was no way the plane could have flown over India without being picked up on radar.
What’s one main focus of the investigation?
Malaysia’s Prime Minister has said that somebody deliberately steered the plane off course. That means the pilots have become one obvious focus for investigators. On Sunday, Malaysian police said they were still investigating a flight simulator seized from pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s home. Peter Chong, a friend of the 53-year-old pilot’s, said it’s unfair to imply that Zaharie had anything to do with what happened to the plane. He said he’d been to Zaharie’s house and tried out the flight simulator. “It’s a reflection of his love for people,” Chong said, “because he wants to share the joy of flying with his friends.”
A 29-year-old Malaysian civil aviation engineer, Mohammed Khairul Amri Selamat, who works for a private jet charter company, was on the flight. Police are investigating all passengers and crew, but he is likely to be of particular interest because of his aviation knowledge. “I am confident that he is not involved,” his father said. “They’re welcome to investigate me and my family.”
What do we know about key moments on the flight?
For days, we’ve been talking about the last transponder signal the plane sent. And now it appears another system that sends data about the plane, the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, was shut off, too. Authorities say the last transmission from that system came early in the flight, at 1:07 a.m. But they say they don’t know exactly when the system was shut down, as the next transmission wasn’t due until 1:37 a.m. Someone inside the cockpit, believed to be the co-pilot, made the plane’s last verbal communication with air traffic controllers at 1:19 a.m., saying, “All right, good night.” The transponder was then switched off at 1:21 a.m., authorities say, and all civilian radar lost contact with the plane altogether about 1:30 a.m. Military radar last detected the plane at 2:15 a.m. off Malaysia’s west coast, hundreds of miles off course. And at 8:11 a.m., more than seven hours after takeoff, a satellite made the last electronic connection, known as a “handshake,” with the plane.
Though some details have come into focus, major questions remain unanswered:
Where’s the plane?
Satellite and radar data have given authorities some clues but not enough to pinpoint the plane. Right now, investigators are focusing on two corridors where the plane might have either crashed or landed: a northern arc that stretches from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in central Asia to northern Thailand, and a southern arc that spans from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean. Because the northern parts of the traffic corridor include some tightly guarded airspace over India, Pakistan and even some U.S. installations in Afghanistan, U.S. authorities believe it’s more likely the aircraft crashed into waters outside of the reach of radar south of India, a U.S. official told CNN. If it had flown farther north, it’s likely it would have been detected by radar. However, on Monday, an Indian military official told CNN that its military radar in the area of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands isn’t as closely watched as it is in other areas. This leaves open the possibility that the flight may not have been picked up by Indian military radar around the time of its last believed Malaysian radar contact, near the island of Pulau Perak in the Strait of Malacca.